Solved! This is How to Get Rid of Mold on Walls

Safely remove unsightly and potentially hazardous mold from the bathroom and other moisture-prone zones by using these easy methods.

By Michelle Ullman and Bob Vila | Updated Mar 14, 2022 5:39 PM

how to get rid of mold on walls

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Q: Ugh! I’ve recently discovered gross patches of mold on the walls in my bathroom. Is it dangerous? How do I get rid of it?

A: Splotches of mold growing on the walls or ceiling is an all-too-common problem in any area of the home where moisture levels tend to be high. While mold can sprout anywhere along a wall, it’s most often found either up high near the ceiling, down low near the floor, or creeping along edges of trim or baseboards.

This frustrating and potentially hazardous problem is most common in bathrooms with frequently used showers or tubs, but it can also affect damp basements, kitchens, or laundry rooms. If conditions are damp, ventilation is poor, and temperatures are high, airborne, invisible mold spores, which are found virtually everywhere, happily settle in and grow.

RELATED: How to Test for Mold

The most feared type of mold is Stachybotrys chartarum, typically referred to as black mold, which can cause chronic respiratory irritation, headaches, and persistent fatigue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black mold requires constant moisture for growth—not just intermittent moisture from the shower—so it’s more likely that your problem is caused by another, less toxic variety of mold. That said, any severe mold situation can lead to or exacerbate respiratory or immune system issues.

If mold is growing in an area that remains wet, it’s best to consult with an expert in mold remediation for professional cleaning services to see if you have mold in the walls, not just on them. The good news is that you should be able to clear up most everyday mold problems yourself. Keep reading to learn how to kill mold on walls and ceilings in your home safely and effectively.

First, spray a bleach solution to attack mold stains on walls.

how to get rid of mold on walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

Mix a solution of one part bleach to three parts water in a spray bottle, and thoroughly saturate the moldy areas of the wall. Open a window or keep a fan running as you work; bleach fumes are unpleasant and can be irritating to the lungs.

Let the bleach soak into the mold on the walls for several minutes, then use a scrub brush to remove the stains. If the stains are extensive or deep, you may need to repeat the process to remove all discoloration.

RELATED: The Dark, Dirty Truth About Household Mold (And How to Rid Yourself of It)

Spray mold on walls with white vinegar to get to the root of the problem.

While bleach works well to kill surface fungus and remove the ugly marks on the walls caused by mold, it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the drywall, and so it leaves the mold’s “roots” undisturbed. That means the problem is likely to reoccur, sometimes within days.

To try and kill mold beneath the surface, spray undiluted white vinegar onto the affected area and let it dry. Don’t worry about the odor; the smell will dissipate once the vinegar is completely dry.

how to get rid of mold on walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

Keep mold from coming back with an ounce of prevention.

Once you’re done removing mold from walls, keep those surfaces looking good with a few preventive measures:

  • Wipe up puddles or spills immediately.
  • After a shower or bath, leave the bathroom door open with the ventilation fan running, or the bathroom window open, for at least 20 minutes to reduce humidity.
  • Keep an eye out for plumbing leaks. Fix them right away. Most types of mold need only about 24 to 48 hours of moisture before spores start to multiply, and black mold becomes more of a possibility the longer leaks are left unattended.
  • Hang damp towels so they dry quickly.
  • If possible, shower with the bathroom door open so condensation doesn’t build up in the enclosed space.
  • Set a canister of moisture-absorbing desiccant—these generally contain either silica gel or salt—in a corner of your bathroom, or run a dehumidifier if you live in a particularly humid climate.
  • Squeegee shower walls and glass doors after every use. The drier your shower or bath is, the less likely it is that mold will grow on the walls. (Bonus: You’ll probably also have less hard water and soap-scum buildup too.)
  • When it’s time to repaint or remodel a bathroom or mold-prone area, use mold-resistant paint.
  • Clean the bathroom every week with bleach, vinegar, or a commercial surface mold cleaner. Remember to scrub the undersides of shampoo and shower gel bottles, where mold spores tend to linger.

Final Thoughts 

how to get rid of mold on walls

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you’re unsure about whether there’s mold in your bathroom, you can test for mold using a mold test kit. If the test results are positive, follow the methods outlined above to eliminate mold stains and mold in the walls. Once you know how to get rid of mold on walls, do so whenever you see the slightest signs of mold staining.

Once you’ve cleaned up the mold, keep it away by controlling moisture levels in bathrooms and other mold-prone areas. If your mold problem gets out of hand, professional mold remediation is always an option.

FAQs About How to Get Rid of Mold on Walls

Don’t take concerns about mold lightly. Follow the steps above to remove and prevent mold on walls. If you still have questions about mold in your bathroom and other humid areas of the home, read on for answers to common queries.

Q. What kills black mold on walls?

Tackling black mold is a serious and potentially dangerous endeavor. First, be sure your problem actually is black mold, and then follow specific steps to remove it safely. Some popular black mold killers are borax, vinegar, bleach, and ammonia. Nontoxic choices like tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract can be just as effective.

You’ll need the right protective equipment and cleaning supplies to rid a wall of black mold. Serious occurrences of black mold in drywall and floors are best left to pros.

Q. How do you get rid of mold in the bathroom? 

Removing mold from walls can take some time and a little muscle, but you can be done by following the steps outlined above. To truly get rid of the mold and stop it from coming back in the future, you must take steps to prevent it from growing. The most important precaution to take is to keep humid rooms as dry and airy as possible so mold spores won’t be able to take hold.

Q. What’s the best mold remover for walls?

For surface stains, bleach is the best mold remover for walls, but if you need to clean a little deeper, white vinegar is the best option. You also can find commercial cleaners with ingredients like bleach, ammonia, and borax. Just be sure to follow package directions carefully to control fumes and exposure.

Q. Can you ever get rid of mold in walls completely?

You can get rid of mold on surfaces and keep it away for good with removal and prevention steps like those outlined above. That said, once mold penetrates a surface or material, it may be necessary to remove the affected drywall or other substance and patch it. After cleaning up the mold, you can apply mold-resistant paint, but simply painting over mold will not remove it.

Q. Should you walk away from buying a house with mold on the walls?

Whether it’s advisable to walk away from a home with mold on the walls depends on many factors. Mold in grout or on shower floors should not be too difficult to remove. If a home inspector finds a mold problem, the seller should either have it removed or provide a credit on the price of the home.

At that point it is up to the buyer to decide whether to move in before or after mold remediation—or not to move in at all. Widespread mold damage can be a sign that a home has not been maintained carefully, which should give buyers pause. In any case, it’s wise to check with your lender before signing on the dotted line.

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